The Cult of Melinda

The gAyTM is closed! No gay rights, no gay $$$!

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Photo Lesson Number 1

You may not notice from the quality of the photos in my last post, but I'm actually quite the photographer. My new digital camera, however, leaves much to be desired. There's a reason I've been reluctant to go digital and now I remember very clearly how much better film is than digital.

Anyway, it has come to my attention that certain people desperately need lessons in photography. Especially since said people insist on taking horrific pictures of yours truly and posting them in publicly accessible places. Ahem. You know who you are.

Let me be clear that I'm not a supermodel by any stretch of the imagination, but I am told that I'm rather cute and even pretty. In pictures, however, I often ending up looking like Shrek's prom date. Why? Because I'm pale. And worse than that, I'm freckled. It has been the bane of my existence that while I got the lovely prominent cheekbones and great hair from my Native American heritage, I've ended up with Irish coloring. Pale and freckled do NOT photograph well without lots of makeup, really good lighting or a great photographer.

I'll refer you to Look at This for what happens to even stunningly beautiful women photographed in harsh light without makeup. The secret known well by those of us who "do" photography or filmmaking is that it's all in the camera. Cameras distort. Just a fact of life. One of the skills so prized in great photography is the ability to overcome or work from the limitations of the lens.

This requires your knowing a few key concepts.

1.) Lenses have "range." For instance, my current digital camera does not shoot accurately within 5 feet. So, my subject has to be at least 5 feet from the lens. Shooting something from too close or too far will destroy your photograph and can lead to a complete distortion of your subject.

Put your hand arms length from your face, then bring it in closer. As your hands moves, you can see it begin to distort. Your fabulous visual cortex controls this distortion, but a camera has no fabulous visual cortex. So, the human eye sees things with a little distortion, but the camera "sees" a dramatic distortion of the subject.

2.) Light is all important. The word photograph basically means a picture made from light. Unless you have a great camera or special film, you can only shoot good quality photos in a limited range of light. Too bright, too harsh, too dark, etc. and you end up with crap shots. Especially if you're one of those people who use flash two feet from in front of your subject in a brightly lit room. NOT GOOD.

Again, your eye/brain can see something similar but controls for it a bit more than a camera can. Notice how you look completely different in a bathroom mirror vs. a bedroom mirror vs. reflected in a storefront window. It's all in the light. Harsh fluorescent lights will make you look really bad and really distort your dimensions. Yes, bad light can make you look fat. If you're pale like me, you may also notice that some lighting will turn you yellow. Every single blemish will become glaringly obvious and a few nonexistent blemishes will be created from thin air.

3.) Angle. Angle. Angle. Shooting someone from a strange angle is bound to have them looking like a bad Picasso knockoff. Unless you're going for cubism or are really talented, you're better off shooting straight on with your subject facing straight into the camera.

4.) Basic manners. Never represent someone visually in a way you would not represent them verbally, at least not in public. I have a vew horrible candid snapshots of people I care about that will never see the light of day. Many have been intentionally destroyed by me because no one deserves a record of the day milk shot out of their nose. The "subject" and I have both seen them and joke about how funny, weird, retarded we look in them. I'm not about to show these pictures to other people. For me, that would be like saying to someone, "Hey, look how horribly ugly my friend is!" when it's not true. Of course, I wouldn't say that about a friend even if it were true.

Anyway, enough lesson for the day. The guilty parties know who they are and should be very, very afraid. I have ways of making you cry! bwahahahahaha!

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